MLB News and Notes April 20

MLB News and Notes April 20

Tuesday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

In this daily edition of the MLB tip sheet we’re going to take a look at some slumping clubs. The New York Yankees entered the season with higher expectations then a 20-24 record, placing them in last place in the AL East (New York hasn’t seen their Pinstripes produce like this since owner George Steinbrenner illegally funneled money into the Nixon campaign).

And need we discuss the ugly situation that has matured in Detroit. The Tigers finished last week off with another 3-7 slump in the last 10. But the main fact still hovers over head; can these organizations get their act together and is there any value in involving these teams in your bets?

Seattle (C. Silva) at Detroit (J. Verlander) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

The Tigers entered this weekend’s interleague play on a four-game losing streak only to emerge from Arizona with only one win in the three-game series. “We have a lot of issue to deal with and that’s why I’m meeting with Dave,” said Detroit’s manager Jim Leyland on his planned conference with general manager Dave Dombrowski.

Where to start with the Tigers? How about a 26th worst .236 BA with runner in scoring position while brining in just 136 RBIs? Mix in more losses then wins tagged to Detroit’s starters Kenny Rogers (3-4, 6.65 ERA), Jeremy Bonderman (2-4, 4.76) and Nate Robinson (1-5, 6.08) and the recipe for disaster on defense is taking its toll.

For Justin Verlander (1-7, 6.05), the planned starter for Tuesday’s contest, four straight losses in his last four starts adds insult to injury. In fact, Verlander’s last win (and only win at that) came in a 10-2 rout over Texas back in April. Since that victory the fourth year slinger has gone on to surrender an average of 4.3 runs per game, while eclipsing the 100 pitch count in only the sixth inning of most of his starts.

It’s plain and simple; the Tigers must continue to be faded on your card (or just stay away completely). With a money line deficit of -1477 and a run line loss of -950, this is a club that can rob you of your cash faster then a stock market crash.

With the Mariners coming to town for the first time this season, bettors could be swayed into backing Detroit. Seattle is 1-7 in its last eight road games and a 7-14 record when designated as the visiting team adds more fuel to this fire.

Total player might want to research the possibilities of cashing in on a low scoring affair. The M’s are 12-6-2 away from home on the ‘under’ this season, while Detroit is 22-18-4 on the ‘under’.

Seattle starter Carlos Silva (3-2, 4.17) will be taking the mound for Game 1 of this series. In his last two starts, total players have witnessed the ‘under’ cash dollars. With the exception of getting lit up by the Yankees for eight runs earlier this month, Silva has maintained an average of giving up only 2.9 runs per game in his last 10 starts.

Philadelphia (C. Hamels) at Washington (J. Bergmann) – 7:10 p.m. EDT

Washington may have started the season with three straight wins but since then it’s been a slip and slide ride. Books have swallowed their losses, installing Washington as a favorite 11 times this season only to see Nats go 3-8 as the fave.

Washington has been especially poor with a 4-11 record when playing in Game 2 of a series. But the numbers that truly surprise (and have been the main culprit to another disappointing season) are a .206 BA versus righties and a .216 BA versus southpaw pitchers in the last 10 days. About the only positive coming out of D.C. is a bullpen that has maintained a 2.83 ERA in the same 10-day stretch.

Right-hander Jason Bergmann (1-1, 7.45) will make his fourth start for the Nationals. His last outing resulted in 1-0 skunking over the Mets this past Thursday. In seven innings of work, Bergmann was spot on with zero runs and three hits surrendered in seven innings. An Apr. 3 pairing against the same Philly team this year witnessed Bergmann getting smacked around in 5.1 innings for seven hits and five runs.

The Phillies haven’t been playing the most inspired ball in the last 10 games, going 4-6. But with a good effort from the rotation and pen in addition to uninspired offense the ‘under’ has been golden with a 4-1 run in the last five. It’s still perplexing how the once locked on Ryan Howard is batting .191 this season (although he’s been steadily raising his average this month).

While Philadelphia is 13-7 in the last 20 head-to-heads, Washington has thus far emerged in 2008 with a 2-1 record versus the Phillies.

San Francisco (T. Lincecum) at Colorado (A. Cook) – 8:35 p.m. EDT

Expectations for the Giants were modest at best during spring training analysis, but many believed Colorado could only build upon its success from last season. Well, predictions for San Francisco were right. However, the story surrounding the Rockies has been a horror.

Colorado has been swept in four series (versus Arizona twice, Philadelphia and the Dodgers), is ranked at the bottom in both offensive and defensive statistical categories and isn’t getting the production expected from players like reliever Manuel Corpas, starter Jeff Francis and Brad Hawpe.

To begin the season the Rockies were installed as favorites eight out of nine times, but boy have things changed. Making adjustments for the here and now, most books have now listed Colorado as the ‘underdog six out of the last nine games. In a three-game series in San Diego, the Rockies were listed anywhere from a $1.31 to $1.40 ‘dogs.

The Rockies were finally able to debunk a six-game slide with two straight ‘W’s’ against Minnesota over the weekend. With the Twins handing the ball off to Kevin Slowey on Sunday and the relative absence of solid swings from the plate, most books finally decided to give Colorado the respect of a favorite. The Rocks cashed tickets as $1.30 faves on Saturday followed by taking Sunday’s contest with a -142 price tag attached (bet $142 to make $100).

Colorado has been able to string together three or more wins consecutively only three times this season. Don’t be surprised if the Rockies will be in look ahead made as the Mets, Phillies and Cubs are next up on the May docket.

Extra Bases

-- The Padres are currently the leading club in terms of money line losses, accounting for a -1569 deficit. A run line record of -1477 has been double trouble for backers (if there’s even any out there).

-- San Diego is the lowest scoring team in both league. Crossing the plate for just 3.3 runs per game, the Pads have complimented their ineptness inside the batter’s box for a league, second to worst .236 BA.

-- The Padres are 2-5 in their last seven, but have supplied total players with a steadfast income on the ‘under’. Seven ‘under’ games have cashed in during the last 10.

-- St. Louis will make the trip into San Diego for a 10:05 p.m. EDT start time. The Cardinals are 12-8 in their last 20 versus the Padres and ended last season’s matchup by taking two straight. The ‘under’ has also gone 3-0 in the last three head-to-head games and 11-7-2 in the last 20.

-- In those last 20 played, most books have labeled St. Louis a favorite 11 times.

-- While it won’t reflect on tomorrow’s game in relation to the starting pitchers (the Cards will start right-hander Joel Pineiro and the Pads will go with veteran Greg Maddux), San Diego has struggled against southpaws for a seasonal .212 BA.

-- If there’s one weak spot that the Padres can capitalize on it’s the Cardinals 5.97 bullpen ERA in the last 10.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 20

Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

Tuesday, May 20th

Arizona Diamondbacks at Florida Marlins 7:10 PM ET


This is Game One between the two first place teams in their respective divisions. Arizona comes in as the hotter of the two with wins in five of its last six games while the Marlins have dropped five of their last six games. The Diamondbacks have the best home record in baseball and are still a game over .500 on the road. Florida had won four straight games at home prior to this past weekend where it dropped two of three to the Royals. Arizona took six of the seven meetings last season.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 20

Nationals place Belliard on DL, plan to recall Schroder

WASHINGTON (AP) -The Washington Nationals placed infielder Ronnie Belliard on the 15-day disabled list Monday night, retroactive to Friday, and plan to recall right-handed pitcher Chris Schroder from Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday.

Belliard has been bothered by a strained left calf.

``He was getting better, so he came out early and tried to run and test it, and he reinjured it,'' manager Manny Acta said following Monday night's 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Schroder has been back and forth between the minors and majors this season. He has made three appearances with the Nationals.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 20

A-Rod set to rejoin Yankees Tuesday

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Alex Rodriguez is set to rejoin the slumping New York Yankees on Tuesday night after finishing his rehabilitation of a strained right quadriceps.

``I'm excited to get back into Yankee Stadium and playing baseball. It's where I belong,'' Rodriguez said after going 2-for-6 in an extended spring training game Monday.

Rodriguez, sidelined since April 28, doubled and singled in six at_bats against Philadelphia minor league right-hander Reginal Simon. He also reached on error, struck out and flied out twice, making him 3-for-10 with a homer in two extended spring training games.

New York, last in the AL East at 20-24, has struggled without the three-time AL MVP. The Yankees are hopeful Rodriguez will provide a spark.

``We'll see,'' Rodriguez said. ``No predictions.''

Rodriguez fielded three grounders - including two he had to charge in on - during five innings at third base.

``I wanted to go left, I wanted to go right defensively. I wanted to come forward on some slow rollers, and I got every one of them,'' Rodriguez said. ``I'm happy about that. I got a chance to slide a few times, and swing the bat well.''

Notes: One of the Yankees' top starting pitching prospects, RHP Alan Horne, threw 26 pitches over two scoreless innings. On the disabled list with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with a biceps injury, Horne is scheduled to throw 50 pitches in an extended spring game Thursday. ... 17-year old Dominican OF Kelvin DeLeon is playing with the extended spring team and homered Monday. ... The Yankees' May 11 rainout at Detroit has been rescheduled for Sept. 1 at 1:05 p.m. ... The Yankees will switch equipment sponsorship from Adidas to Nike next year under a five-year deal that has been agreed to in principle, Sports Business Journal reported. Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer said the company wouldn't confirm or discuss the report until after the season and Yankees spokesman Howard Rubenstein said he wasn't able to reach any team officials for comment. Adidas has sponsored the Yankees since 1997. All big league teams' on-field apparel, however, is covered by Major League Baseball's agreements.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 20

A's put Murphy on DL, call up Braden

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -The Oakland Athletics placed infielder Donnie Murphy on the disabled list Monday with a sore right elbow and recalled left-hander Dallas Braden from Triple-A Sacramento.

Murphy had started five straight games at second base in place of the injured Mark Ellis before missing Sunday's game in Atlanta with inflammation in his elbow. Murphy was hitting .200 with two homers and six RBIs in 26 games.

Ellis took grounders, ran the bases and hit before Monday's game against Tampa Bay but was not in the starting lineup for a seventh straight game because of a strained left hamstring. He was available to play in an emergency and is ``very close'' to returning to the lineup, manager Bob Geren said.

Braden was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in five relief appearances with the A's before being optioned to Sacramento on May 8. Braden made just one start following his demotion, throwing three scoreless innings for the River Cats on May 12.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 20

Early MLB surprises
By BRYAN LEONARD

One aspect of handicapping that’s important to focus in on, especially now that we are settling into the season, is the mood of a team.

Some clubs are off to better than expected starts, like the Rays, Marlins and Braves. Players on teams like this can be excited about coming to work each day and look forward to playing. Other times, players and teams can be disappointing because of high expectations or injuries.

It’s amazing, but the Florida teams, the Rays and Marlins, are having terrific seasons despite low payrolls, both sitting in first place. Tampa Bay just took three out of four from the Yankees and their $209-million dollar payroll. The baseball Gods must be having one heck of a laugh right now. They held the Yankees to one, two, one, and two runs in the four games. A newspaper in New York reported that one of the Steinbrenner’s said that the Yankees "have got to start playing the way the Rays are playing." Boy, has the world turned upside down.

It’s actually great to be a Rays fan. The Rays agreed to terms that will keep starting pitcher Scott Kazmir with the team at least through the 2011 season. The Rays have locked up its top two starters (Kazmir, James Shields) along with Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria and Dan Wheeler. So how are they doing it? Tampa Bay is only 16th in the majors in runs scored. Yet, they are tops in the AL in steals and sixth overall in team ERA (third in ERA in the AL). With starting pitching so hard to find, starting the next several seasons with Kazmir and Shields atop the rotation shows that the Rays front office is making some savvy short and long term moves. The Tampa Bay pitching has been noticeably good at home, where bettors have taken stock of the Rays’ 17-6 mark under the total.

Across to the other Florida coast is another surprising story, the first place Marlins. They are getting it done differently than the Rays. Florida ranks 11th in team ERA in the NL and has only seven saves. The young starting duo of Mark Hendrickson and Scott Olsen has dazzled, but Hendrickson is a 33-year-old journeyman who has never pitched even remotely this well. We all wonder when the wheels will fall off for him. The guy to watch is 22-year-old Andrew Miller, the key piece the Marlins got from the Tigers in the Dontrelle Willis/Miguel Cabrera deal. He is still learning, but is off two very strong starts.

It’s the offense that is carrying this team, ranked sixth in runs and tops in home runs. Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu have been sizzling. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez just agreed to a six-year contract worth $70 million with the Marlins. The National League's Rookie of the Year in 2006, Ramirez is obviously a cornerstone player the Marlins targeted. The 24-year old Ramirez, hitting .326, has a dangerous combination of speed and power. Once the team's leadoff hitter (he now hits third), Ramirez hit 29 homers last season and stole 51 bases. Florida's $22 million payroll is by far the lowest in the majors, and almost half that of Tampa Bay - the next-lowest team, so the two have been great stories.

A team beginning to make a surge is the Atlanta Braves, winning eight of 12. They are seventh in the NL in runs scored, but tops in team ERA despite just six saves. This is a team that made the right moves in the offseason, bringing back Tom Glavine while letting Andruw Jones walk. Jones is getting booed in L.A. where he has been a colossal $36-million dollar bust. Veteran third baseman Chipper Jones is hitting over .400 and shows no signs of slowing down. They’ve been terrible in one-run games, which is why the have so few saves. By the way, the Braves started 25-11 under the total. Any team that’s tops in team ERA has a good chance of sticking around for the long summer haul of 162 games.

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Chicago Cubs (28-17) at Houston (25-21)


The red-hot Cubs send right-hander Ryan Dempster (5-1, 2.35 ERA) to the mound at Minute Maid Park against the National League Central rival Astros, who are set to hand the ball to right-hander Chris Sampson (2-3, 6.46) in the middle game of a three-game series.

Chicago scored a 7-2 victory in In Monday night’s opener, improving to 9-2 in its last 11 games. The Cubs have won their last three series, though those were all at home. Meanwhile, the Astros have followed up an 11-2 run by losing three of their last four. Also, Houston first baseman Lance Berkman went 0-for-4 last night, ending a 17-game hitting streak and dropping his season average from .399 to .389.

The Cubs have won three of four from the Astros this season, and they’re now 5-1 in the last six clashes dating to last season. The Cubs narrowly won the season series last year 8-7, though the Astros went 4-2 at home.

The Cubs improved to 7-2 in Dempster’s starts this season with Thursday’s 4-0 home victory over San Diego. It was Dempster’s best outing of the season, as he scattered six hits and struck out 12 over 8 1/3 scoreless innings. All five of Dempster’s wins have come at home this year, but in three road starts, he’s 0-1 despite a miniscule 0.90 ERA. In Dempster’s lone loss, a 5-3 setback at Pittsburgh on April 20, all five runs were unearned.

In his career against Houston, Dempster is 3-7 with a 4.88 ERA in 37 appearances (11 starts).

Sampson, who will make his ninth start today, is 1-0 with two no-decisions in his last three outings, but the Astros won all three games. On Thursday at San Francisco, he got roughed up for seven runs on 10 hits in six innings, but Houston rallied for five runs over the last two innings to notch an 8-7 victory. Prior to that, Sampson threw seven shutout innings, allowing three hits, in a 5-0 road win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 10.

Sampson is 0-2 with an astounding 15.75 ERA in three starts at home this season, but he’s 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in three career starts (five appearances) against Chicago, including a 4-3 road win April 4 in which he yielded two runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

The Cubs are on positive runs of 5-1 against winning teams and 5-1 when Dempster starts against the N.L. Central. However, they carry negative trends of 3-5 in roadies, 2-6 on the highway against winning teams and 1-4 in Dempster’s last five road starts.

The Astros are on tears of 8-2 at Minute Maid, 6-3 against the N.L. Central, 4-1 in Sampson’s last five outings and 8-2 with Sampson facing division rivals. On the flip side, Houston is 1-4 in Sampson’s last four home starts, 2-8 with Sampson facing a winning team and 3-7 with Sampson going on four days’ rest.

The under for Chicago is 5-1 in Dempster’s last six road starts, but the over is 4-1 with Dempster on the hill against N.L. Central foes, and the “over” trends are running hot when Sampson starts for Houston, including 8-0 at home, 8-1 with Sampson on four days’ rest, 7-2 against winning teams and 12-4 in his last 16 outings overall.

In addition, for Chicago, the over is 13-7-2 in its last 22 contests inside the division, but the under is 13-3-1 on Tuesday, 7-2-1 against winning teams and a lengthy 44-17-4 in the Cubs’ last 64 road matchups. For Houston, the over is 8-2 in its last 10 at home.

Finally, in this rivalry, the under is 17-5 in the last 22 games in Houston and 19-6-1 in the last 26 matchups overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CHICAGO CUBS


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Los Angeles Angels (26-20) at Toronto (23-23)


Right-hander John Lackey (0-0, 1.29 ERA), just recently brought off the disabled list, will toe the slab for the Angels when they take on the Blue Jays and righty Dustin McGowan (2-3, 4.38) in the opener of a three-game series at the Rogers Centre.

Los Angeles comes into this three-game set after taking two of three at home from their neighboring rival Dodgers in interleague play. The Angels capped the series with a 10-2 shellacking on Sunday before taking Monday off. The Blue Jays, also off Monday, had similar success in their first interleague action of the season, taking two of three at Philadelphia, including Sunday’s 6-5 win. Toronto has followed a four-game slide by winning six of its last seven.

The Blue Jays are 8-2 in the last 10 meetings with the Angels in Toronto and 17-8 in the last 25 clashes overall. Toronto has narrowly won the season series the past two years, going 4-3 in 2007 and 6-4 in 2006, with a 5-2 mark at home. Los Angeles is just 1-4 in Lackey’s last four road starts against Toronto and 1-5 in Lackey’s last six overall against the Jays.

Lackey, who had been out since spring training with a strained triceps, picked up where he left off last year in his first start of the season Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox. He allowed just one run on six hits in seven innings, with one walk and four strikeouts, but he got only one run of support and the bullpen imploded by allowing five runs in the last two innings as L.A. lost 6-1. Lackey, who went 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA in 2007, is 2-2 with a 3.57 ERA in seven career starts against Toronto.

McGowan is gearing up for his 10th start of the year, and the Jays are just 3-6 with the 26-year-old on the hill. On Thursday at Minnesota, he allowed two runs on two hits in five innings, getting a no-decision in Toronto’s 3-2, 11-inning win; that followed a 12-0 beatdown at Cleveland in which McGowan allowed nine runs (all earned) on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

McGowan is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA at home this year, but he’s 0-2 with a 3.45 ERA in two career starts (four appearances) against the Angels.

The Angels are on an 0-7 freefall following an off day and are 0-4 in their last four on the highway, 4-11 in their last 15 on the road against teams with a winning home record and 1-4 in Lackey’s last four starts against the American League East. On the positive side, Los Angeles is on streaks of 4-1 on Tuesday, 4-0 when Lackey goes on Tuesday, 12-4 when Lackey hits the road, 17-7 with Lackey in a series opener, 19-9 in Lackey’s last 28 starts overall and 27-13 with Lackey going on five days’ rest.

The Blue Jays are on rolls of 4-1 coming off a win, 5-2 at home, 25-10 at Rogers Centre against winning teams and 4-1 when McGowan works in the Rogers Centre. But Toronto is 0-4 in its last four following an off day, 1-4 in McGowan’s past five facing the A.L. West and 2-9 in its last 11 series openers.

The under is 4-0 in Lackey’s last four road starts, 6-1 in his last seven outings overall, 7-2 in his last nine against the A.L. East and 4-1 in his last five versus Toronto. Also, the under is on a bevy of runs with McGowan throwing for Toronto, including 21-5-1 overall, 13-3-1 at home, 6-0 at home against winning teams, 10-1 in series openers and 16-5 against A.L. West opponents.

Furthermore, for Los Angeles, the under is on streaks of 5-1 overall, 4-1 in series openers and 6-2-1 on the highway. For Toronto, the under is on rolls of 20-8-1 overall, 8-2 at home and 10-1-2 at home against winning road teams.

Finally, the under is 38-15-5 in the last 58 meetings between these two teams, including 19-7-3 in the last 29 clashes in Toronto.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Baseball Today

New York Mets at Atlanta (1:05 p.m.). Tom Glavine (1-1, 4.41 ERA), coming off his first win since returning to the Braves, goes against his former team at Turner Field. The Mets send out John Maine (5-2, 2.81), who has won four straight starts.

STARS

- Jon Lester, Red Sox, pitched a no-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 7-0 victory over Kansas City.

- Albert Pujols, Cardinals, hit two homers in an 8-2 victory over San Diego.

- Evan Longoria, Rays, hit a two-run homer in the 13th inning to lift Tampa Bay to a 7-6 victory over Oakland.

- Tim Redding and Lastings Milledge, Nationals. Redding pitched 6 1-3 scoreless innings and Lastings had two doubles and two RBIs in Washington's 4-0 victory over Philadelphia.

- Clint Barmes and Yorvit Torrealba, Rockies. Barmes homered and Torrealba added a go-ahead two-run double in the sixth, leading Colorado to a 4-3 win over slumping San Francisco.

- Howie Clark, Twins, had a run-scoring single in the 12th inning to lift Minnesota to a 7-6 victory over Texas.

- Blake DeWitt and Matt Kemp, Dodgers. DeWitt drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth and Kemp had four hits in Los Angeles' 6-5 win over Cincinnati.

AMAZING FEAT

Jon Lester can now add pitching a no-hitter to his already amazing list of accomplishments. The 24-year-old lefty, who survived cancer to pitch the World Series clincher for the Boston Red Sox last fall, shut down Kansas City 7-0 Monday night for the first no-hitter in the majors this season. Lester allowed just two baserunners and struck out nine in his first major league complete game.

A NEW HOPE IN CENTER

Jacque Jones, cut by Detroit two weeks ago, reached a minor league deal with the Florida Marlins on Monday and is expected to soon become their starting center fielder. Jones will first report to extended spring training in Jupiter, Fla. He was in a 1-for-26 slump when Detroit designated him for assignment May 5. Marlins center fielders are next-to-last in the majors with a .216 average. They have combined for three homers and 14 RBIs.

NOT AGAIN!

For the second straight night, major league umpires botched a home run call. Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was credited with a three-run, inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning Monday night despite replays showing that it should have been an automatic home run. The ball bounced just to the right of the yellow line on the wall in left-center field. Astros center fielder Michael Bourn scooped it up and threw it home, but Soto scored easily before the throw got there. The Cubs went on to beat the Astros 7-2. New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado was robbed of a three-run homer Sunday night after umpires reversed the call, turning it into a long foul ball. The replay of that play showed it should have been a home run.

STREAKS

San Francisco's 4-3 loss at Colorado on Monday night was its sixth straight. ... Giants outfielder Randy Winn hit a solo homer in the first to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He also had a single and an RBI on a sacrifice fly. ... Rockies shortstop Clint Barmes led off the fourth with a solo homer to left, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Cincinnati's 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers snapped the Reds' six-game winning streak. ... Adam Dunn tied a Cincinnati club record by homering in his fifth straight game.

SELLING SOME PIECES OF HISTORY

Thurman Munson's World Series rings, MVP trophy and the uniform that the former New York Yankees catcher wore for his final home game before he died in a 1979 plane crash will be auctioned off in connection with this summer's All-Star game at Yankee Stadium. Also part of the July 14-15 auction are Lou Gehrig's warmup jacket dating to the final game of his streak of playing 2,130 consecutive games, the ball from Babe Ruth's 712th home run and a bat used in a game by Jackie Robinson.

COMING BACK SOON?

Hank Blalock began an extended spring training assignment for Texas without any trouble, bringing him one step closer to returning to the Rangers' lineup. Out since April 26 because of a partially torn left hamstring, Blalock is expected to rejoin the Rangers for this weekend's series at Cleveland. ... Pedro Martinez threw 4 1-3 innings of a simulated game and the Mets plan to have him throw a bullpen session Wednesday or Thursday in Atlanta. Martinez has been out since straining his left hamstring April 1 in his only start of the season.

SHUTTING DOWN THE PHILLIES

Tim Redding pitched 6 1-3 scoreless innings in Washington's 4-0 victory over Philadelphia on Monday night, extending his shutout streak against the Phillies this season to 13 1-3 innings. On April 2, Redding had seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 win - the only other time the Phillies have been blanked this season.

STRUGGLING

Texas closer C.J. Wilson gave up the tying run on a single by Minnesota's Joe Mauer in the ninth inning, and the Rangers lost 7-6 in 12 innings Monday night. Wilson has now given up 11 earned runs in his last 11 1-3 innings and hasn't recorded a save since May 7.

POWER SURGE

Albert Pujols hit two mighty home runs, and Cesar Izturis and Ryan Ludwick also went yard in leading the St. Louis Cardinals to an 8-2 win over the punchless San Diego Padres on Monday night. The four homers were the most in a game this year for the Cardinals, who tied their season high with 16 hits.

SPEAKING

``I can't tell you which one means more to me than the other. The World Series is, obviously, the World Series. How many people get to say they've won that? And a no-hitter is a no-hitter. How many people can say they've done that? So they're both up there. They both mean a heck of a lot to me, and something I'll cherish for a long time.'' - Boston left-hander Jon Lester, after pitching a no-hitter in a 7-0 victory over Kansas City on Monday night. Lester also got the win in Game 4 of Boston's sweep of Colorado in the World Series last year.

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Jake Peavy headed to DL
May 20, 2008

SAN DIEGO (AP) -Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy will go on the 15-day disabled list with swelling and a strained muscle in his pitching elbow.

An MRI exam showed no ligament damage.

While disappointed in being shut down for at least two weeks, the Padres ace said he was relieved there's no structural damage.

``When you do get discomfort in your elbow and it's near the Tommy John ligament, you know what Tommy John means, and yeah there's cause for concern,'' Peavy said. He was referring to Tommy John surgery, or reconstructive surgery when a pitcher damages his ulnar collateral ligament.

``So I was upfront and honest with the trainers when it happened and we've monitored it and done all we can do with drugs to get me to where maybe we thought it would go away and it hasn't,'' Peavy said. ``I knew something was in there. I understand when something's not right. You just hope the right thing was wrong with you and fortunately we think that's the case.''

Peavy said he felt discomfort for his last three or four starts. Not only was his elbow sore on every pitch, but he said it began bothering him in everyday life, even when he'd turn a door knob or squeeze his bottle of contact lens solution.

``That's when you go, 'Man, something's wrong,' `` Peavy said.

Peavy throws a hard slider, but said the injury went beyond his signature pitch.

``This was just every pitch I threw, I could feel it,'' Peavy said. ``I don't know what caused it. Wish I could go back and pinpoint when it happened, but I think it kind of happened over time. All of a sudden I threw one day and could feel it and it never went away and obviously it got to the point where I can't do my job.''

Peavy was scratched on Sunday from his scheduled start Monday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Padres lost, 8-2.

``You always fear the worst,'' manager Bud Black said Monday night. ``In this case it wasn't, so that's a good thing. The doctors were confident Jake will be fine. He's feeling better already.''

Peavy (4-3, 2.91 ERA), has lost three of his last four decisions. He hasn't pitched beyond the sixth in any of his last three starts, and lasted just four innings last Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

``Hopefully this will be a short stint and I can get back out there as soon as possible,'' he said. ``I'm hoping, best-case scenario, maybe miss a few starts then try to get back out there.''

Peavy was the unanimous winner of last year's NL Cy Young Award after leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts - pitching's version of a Triple Crown.

He went 19-6 while topping the majors in ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240) for the Padres, who came within one win of their third consecutive playoff berth.

The Padres have the worst record in the majors, 16-30.

Black said Wil Ledezma, who took the loss Monday night, will fill in for Peavy. The Padres plan to call up reliever Joe Thatcher to fill the vacant roster spot.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 20

Tuesday MLB Gameday

Daniel Cabrera and the Baltimore Orioles will be looking to knock Mike Mussina and the New York Yankees for a loss Tuesday night. Here's a preview in your MLB Gameday …

Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees

Cabrera has won two games in a row and four of his past six starts. The righthander held the Red Sox to three earned runs on 10 hits over seven innings last Wednesday to secure his fourth victory of the season. Back on April 18 against the Yankees Cabrera surrendered just two earned runs on six hits over six innings to earn himself the win.

Mussina has won five starts in a row, and he hasn't given up more than three runs in an outing since April 17 versus the Red Sox. The veteran righthander last pitched on May 14 versus the Rays, holding the opposition to just one earned run on five hits over his 6 1-3 innings of work. Mussina has not faced his former Baltimore teammates this year.

Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays

Lackey finally made his season debut on May 14 against the White Sox, and he looked as sharp as ever. The righthander missed the first month and a half of the season recovering from a strained triceps, but he held Chicago to one earned run on six hits over seven strong innings of work. Lackey walked one and struck out four in that outing.

McGowan was pounded by the Indians back on May 10 - he surrendered nine earned runs on nine hits over 3 2-3 innings to take his third loss of the season. However, the righthander bounced back versus the Twins last time out, holding the opposition to two earned runs on two hits over five innings. McGowan earned a no-decision in that game.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Florida Marlins

Owings got back into the win column for the Diamondbacks in his last start (on May 14), holding the Rockies scoreless on five hits over six innings of work. The righthander had gone 0-1 with two no-decisions over his previous three outings after picking up a win in each of his first four starts. Owings has allowed three or fewer runs in six of eight starts.

Hendrickson earned the win in four of his first five starts this season, but since then he's gone just 1-1 with two no-decisions. The lefthander is coming off a loss to the Reds in which he allowed four earned runs on eight hits (and five walks) in just five innings of work. Hendrickson's last victory came back on May 2 in a home start versus the Padres.

San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies

Lincecum continues to be the star of the Giants' pitching staff, as he's allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his nine outings so far this season. The righthander is coming off a victory over the Astros (six innings pitched, three earned runs), but his only defeat came on April 29 versus the Rockies (seven innings pitched, three earned runs).

Cook got the victory in that April 29 contest against San Francisco - he surrendered just two unearned runs on 10 hits over seven innings in that outing, fanning three. The righthander had a personal six-game winning streak snapped against the D-Backs last time out, as he gave up five earned runs on 10 hits over five innings to take the defeat.

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